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Burmese President Retains Party Leadership

October 16, 2012

by VOA News

Burma's president will hold onto his role as leader of the ruling party, despite concerns heading into the 2015 general election.

"The Party President is President Thein Sein, all the EC members agreed to this," said Union Solidarity and Development Party spokesperson Htay Oo. "The Vice Presidents are Thura U Shwe Mann, myself and Thura U Aye Myint — all together there's three."

Heading into the party vote Tuesday in the administrative capital of Naypyidaw, there had been talk the military-backed USPD might replace Thein Sein with his main rival, Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann.

Shwe Mann was named acting party chairman, in addition to being a party vice president, to handle day-to-day party business.

The party is trying to recover from a crushing defeat in April's by-elections, when it lost 43 of the 45 available seats to Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition National League of Democracy Party.

Aung San Suu Kyi recently told reporters she is courageous enough to run for president, if that is what the people want.

Meanwhile, the United States is continuing to push the military-backed Burmese government for reforms.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Quinlan said a delegation from Washington has arrived in Burma for talks.

"This happens to be the first bi-lateral human rights dialogue between the U.S. and Burma, and it demonstrates that we're interested in continuing the reform process and so, absolutely, we welcome this first dialogue taking place," he said.

The U.S. delegation also includes Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Vikram Singh and Lieutenant General Francis Wiercinski, the head of the U.S. Army’s Pacific Command.

Despite the presence of defense officials, Quinlan says he "wouldn't characterize it as a military delegation."


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